Chicago Open Air lit up Seat Geek Stadium!

Saturday morning I woke up with excitement for a weekend that I had been anxiously awaiting for months.

I know Chicago Open Air had received a lot of grief about initial ticket pricing and such, but once I saw the names System of a Down and Tool next to each other I put all of that negativity behind me. That anticipation grew exponentially Saturday morning as I gathered my gear and prepared for a weekend brimming with brutal, melodic, unrelenting metal. Chicago Open Air delivered – in a major way. The headliners drew the crowds, alcohol was consumed, music was played, people had a great time!

While both day’s were enjoyable, the weather did cause some delays and we were not able to see all bands on day 1.  We missed out on getting to hear Vein, Knocked Loose, and Code Orange.  Our day instead kicked off with Beartooth.  Sadly the crowd took a bit to warm up due to the delays and not many folks in the pits.  That didn’t stop Beartooth from pumping out some hardcore tunes and giving us a great performance.  

Meshuggah took the stage next.  When I described the festival’s music as brutal and unrelenting – I was pretty much describing Meshuggah. All I can say is Wow.. Meshuggah fired on all cylinders at Open Air. From the detailed slaying on the guitars, the constant beating of the double kick drum, and fierce guttural response of vocals I was in love. I have listened to them in the past, but I don’t think I was ready for the experience I received seeing them live. This set reminded me how powerful of a band they are and rekindled my infatuation.

Ghost delivers on many levels. Their performance was rock solid and something that everyone should witness first hand. They are artistic not only with their music, but the way they carry themselves on stage, always performing, always giving the crowd memories they won’t soon forget.

With the first three bands cancelled due to weather, the only thing left for Saturday was for System of a Down to grace us with a satisfyingly insane 27 song setlist. System of a Down had been on a hiatus for a while with sporadic performances here and there, but they never missed a beat.. SOAD quickly played through song after song with minimal to no breaks between. One of the most enjoyable moments was wandering around the venue during the set and watching the fans spread throughout the field all entranced, hanging on every moment in complete astonishment. Their performance was truly magical.  

As excited as I was for Day 1, Sunday was the day I was completely excited for.. Sunday started off looking just like the previous day. Rain clouds were heading our way. Thankfully the storms passed quickly and the venue was able to open their doors shortly after the originally scheduled time.  Alien Weaponry got the day started right with a very raw chanting by drummer Henry de Jong. Alien Weaponry had a shortened set due to the rain delays, but the crowd fell in love instantly and ushered the band with applause after each song. Alien Weaponry was definitely my underdog of the weekend. If you are lucky enough to have them coming near you in the future, go see them and thank me after.

FEVER 333 was another highlight for the weekend. The band is just something else. They kicked off their set with high energy and obvious disregard for their own safety.  From jumping up and down the stage, constantly being in motion, running through the crowd on what seemed to be a neverending microphone cable, to climbing the neighboring building and closing out the set singing from the roof. The energy FEVER 333 gives off is so infectious that you simply have to be enthralled by everything going on. Their music drives passion and that is something rare these days.

After the dust settled from the FEVER that ensued – In This Moment left us in awe. I had heard many times over about how extravagant their stage setup is. In This Moment didn’t disappoint.  From the first few notes of ‘Blood’ the crowd was into it. They quickly worked through a shortened set (Making up lost time from the bit of rain earlier) and capped off the immaculate performance with ‘Whore’. It was everything I had expected and more. The imagery created by Maria and the team was captivating and beautiful.

The finale to my day was getting to catch Tool yet again. In a previous review I stated that they have been THE band on top of my favorites for a majority of my life. This still holds true, but I will try to keep my gushing and fanboy comments to a minimum.  Tool took the stage shortly after the sun went down. They opened with a fan favorite – ‘Aenima’. I have seen sets where they have closed with this song – so it is a strong one to start the night off with.  This show was the last in a small US festival/arena tour. Having done my homework I knew that I was going to get my chance to hear their two new songs with lyrics and it was every bit insane as I had imagined. Tool absolutely crushed the entire weekend. The pits were packed and the seats were filled!  Everyone looked on with wonderment. Between their custom graphics and intricate music – the entire area was filled with a euphoric encounter they will carry with them forever. Tool also gave us the chance to hear ‘Part of Me’ which had only been played once a week prior since 1998. Little things like that are what keep fans of theirs coming show after show and providing continual support. Tool closed out their set with ‘Stinkfist’ and had the crowd singing along with them until the final notes were played.

Overall I don’t think I could have had a better weekend. The comradery felt from fellow media and all who were involved with making COA a success will not soon be forgotten. Hopefully enough people agree and can make a 2020 return happen. Special thanks to Danny Wimmer Presents and those involved for giving us all memories that we can relive over and over.